Many of us learned as we grew up that Disney's beloved stories are based on fairy tales that were often bleak and sometimes ghastly. These stories were meant to teach children how to deal with difficult times, find their place in society, trigger their imagination, and teach many other important lessons. Beauty and the Beast is no exception. The musical was the first of Disney's stage adaptations and is based on the 1991 animated Disney film, which was adapted from the French fairy tale by Madame de Villeneuve. The original tale tells of a wealthy merchant with 12 children who, upon losing all of his trade ships, finds himself plunged into destitution. Eleven of his children are resentful; only one, his youngest daughter Beauty, maintains happiness. When her father hears that one of his ships has come into the harbor safely, he sets out with requests from his children for expensive gifts, with a hesistant request for a single red rose from Beauty. The merchant stumbles upon Beast's castle while returning home. There he finds food, a fire, and a bed prepared for him. When he leaves, he takes a single rose from the garden for Beauty, which brings the Beast's wrath upon him. In exchange for his life, he agrees to return with one of his daughters.
Although frightened, Beauty agrees to go. In the castle, she is given all the amenities of a lavish lifestyle but she never sees anyone, except in the evening when the Beast joins her for dinner. Though she enjoys conversing with him, every night he asks Beauty to marry him and she refuses. After several months, she admits she is attached to the Beast but she misses her family. He allows her to go home for one week but warns that if she delays her return, he will die of grief. Once home, her sisters are jealous of the lifestyle Beauty has experienced. They act overly affectionate, hoping to keep her home longer so the Beast will become angry and harm her in his rage. Instead, Beauty returns to the castle late and finds the Beast dying. She realizes she loves him and begs him to live and marry her. He immediately is restored to his princely self and they live happily ever after. While there are many similarities and differences between the original story and the Disney version we all know and love, we can certainly agree that this is one 'tale as old as time!'
To get the inside scoop on all the exciting work happening on and off stage for this magical production. I caught up with Magdalena Laws, who plays Belle to get the 'behind the curtain' scoop.
Q: Belle is a very iconic character, portrayed in animation, real life, TV, film, and on stage all around the world. How does it feel to now have your turn at portraying this role on the GLT stage?
A: It’s exciting of course, but, perhaps even a little intimidating, when you feel as though there is a lot to live up to. But, at the end of the day, you have to set that aside. You don’t want to be Emma Watson or the original Belle but of course you want to learn from them and value what they can provide to you as influences. She’s such a strong girl, but at the same time she’s still young and there is so much of the world she hasn’t experienced yet. You just try to relate to that as much as possible and give it your best shot.
Q: What does this story and character mean to you?
A: It’s really the classic example of a small town girl who dreams of so much more than the life she is currently living and feels as though her town is holding her back in a way no one understands. Once she finally gets out, though, she realizes the world can be scary and often not what she expected at all, but she is able to find good in a really bad situation and makes the most of it. She always stays optimistic and very positive and never lets her circumstances get her down, which is something I really love about this character.
Q: You have a strong foundation in dance. Can you tell us about that and how it influences your work as Belle?
A: I would say just even the way you carry yourself on stage. There is a certain grace that comes with being a dancer and that really goes hand in hand with the ideal of a Disney Princess. It encapsulates everything - your posture, the way you carry yourself, and the way you move onstage. Dance can greatly influence even the simplest movements. Plus, they have me doing some classic Disney spins, which is fun!
Q: Who is your favorite Disney prince or princess and why?
A: My favorited Disney princess was definitely Belle, mainly because she was a brunette! Growing up, I had the mantra of “forget these blondes, I have brown hair so Belle is my favorite!“ Plus I really connected with her story and character growing up. I would say my favorite prince was Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid. I mean, how could you not love him?
Q: What do you hope the audience will take away from this production?
A: I hope that they leave with a smile on their face. Many grew up watching the movie so I hope it can warm a special place in their heart. I would love them to feel better than they did coming in and leave singing these timeless songs.
Beauty and the Beast is selling out very quickly so hurry and call the box office at (864) 233-6238 or click here to reserve your tickets today!